How to Fill Out Bankruptcy Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims

On bankruptcy Schedule E/F, you list priority unsecured debts and nonpriority unsecured debts. Learn what those are and how to fill out the form.

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

When you file for bankruptcy, you must list all creditors with unsecured claims against you on Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims. Examples of unsecured claims include medical debt and most credit card debt. Unlike secured debts, such as your mortgage or car loan, unsecured debts aren't secured by collateral the lender can take if you don't pay as agreed.

In this article, you'll learn the differences between the following:

  • secured and unsecured claims, and
  • priority and nonpriority unsecured claims.

We also explain other important terms, such as contingent, unliquidated, and disputed, so you'll be able to complete the bankruptcy form Schedule E/F with ease.

How to Complete Schedule E/F and Other Bankruptcy Forms

You declare bankruptcy by filing bankruptcy forms with the bankruptcy court. Schedule E/F is one of the forms you'll complete when disclosing your income, assets, debts, and past financial transactions in your bankruptcy case.

What You Must Disclose on Bankruptcy Form Schedule E/F

On Schedule E/F, you'll list all unsecured debts, or those not secured by property with a lien. If you've already completed Schedule D: Creditors Who Have Claims Secured by Property, here's a shortcut: List everything you didn't include on Schedule D on Schedule E/F.

Terms You'll Need to Know Before Completing Schedule E/F

The form asks you to list your priority unsecured debts in the first section. You'll list nonpriority, unsecured debts separately. Before you get started, you'll need to know several things to list your debts properly:

  • What are secured and unsecured debts?
  • What is a priority unsecured debt?
  • What is a nonpriority unsecured debt?

We explain and define these and other terms below.

What Is Secured Debt?

You likely realize that your creditor can foreclose on your home or repossess your car if you don't pay your mortgage or car payment. When you bought the property, the creditor required you to "secure" loan repayment with a lien. The lien allows the creditor to sell your house, car, or other "collateral" if you fail to pay your bill.

Although you can secure debts in other ways, a secured debt involves a lien tied to your property. The creditor can use the lien to force the sale of the property if you don't fulfill your payment obligation.

Learn more about lien types and what happens to liens in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

What Is an Unsecured Debt or Claim?

An unsecured debt is not secured by property. If you don't pay your credit card or a medical bill, your creditor can't take back the ski pants you bought or reverse your medical treatment. The debt isn't guaranteed by property a creditor can recover if you default on the credit agreement.

Learn more about secured and unsecured claims.

What Are Priority Debts in Bankruptcy?

Priority debts or claims are unsecured debts that are considered more important than other unsecured debts. When money is available in bankruptcy, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee pays priority claims before other unsecured claims.

The most common priority claims include alimony, child support, and recent income tax obligations. But other types of priority claims exist. The only way to know whether a debt is a priority claim is by looking at a list like the one in priority claims in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

In Chapter 7, you'll likely remain responsible for these debts after receiving the discharge—the order wiping out qualifying debts—because many are nondischargeable. In Chapter 13, you'll pay these debts in full through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.

What Are Nonpriority Unsecured Debts?

Any unsecured debt that isn't a priority debt is a general unsecured debt. Nonpriority, unsecured debts include credit card debt, medical debt, personal loans, student loans, utility service arrearages, lawsuit judgments, and the like.

Most of your nonpriority, unsecured debts will be discharged at the end of your bankruptcy. Unsecured debts that are rarely or never discharged include the following:

  • student loans
  • fines, penalties, or restitution imposed by a government as punishment
  • court fees
  • intoxicated driving debts, and
  • homeowner's association fees assessed after filing for bankruptcy.

Find out more about what happens to student loans in bankruptcy.

Tips for Completing Bankruptcy Form Schedule E/F

Schedule E/F contains detailed information regarding how to complete the form, but not all terms are clearly explained. Below, we provide tips and other information you might need.

Creditor information. Identify creditors by listing names and addresses where indicated. List each debt once. If you have several names and addresses for one debt, perhaps because multiple debt collection agencies have tried to collect the same debt, you'll list the other creditor information at the end of the form in a separate section.

Who incurred the debt? Check the appropriate box if anyone other than a co-filing spouse is also responsible for the debt. You'll list your codebtor's contact information on Schedule H: Your Codebtors. You might also want to learn about your codebtor's debt responsibility in bankruptcy.

Account number. To maintain confidentiality, enter the last four digits of the account number, not the entire number.

When was the debt incurred? Here you'll disclose the date you incurred the obligation.

Is the claim subject to an offset? If the creditor owes you money, you might have an offset you can deduct from the claim amount.

Contingent, unliquidated, or disputed. The claim is contingent if your debt liability is based on a future event. If the exact amount you owe isn't yet known, it's an unliquidated claim. If you don't believe that you owe the debt or it's incorrect in some way, it's a disputed claim.

Total claim. You'll list the entire amount of the debt.

Priority and nonpriority amounts. If only part of the claim is entitled to priority, separate the priority from the nonpriority amount in the priority section. Don't list the debt again in the nonpriority section.

Types of priority claims. If you have any debts matching a specific priority claim category listed on Schedule E/F, check the box next to that type of claim.

Type of nonpriority unsecured claim. Check the appropriate box to report whether the debt is a student loan, a family law-related obligation not reported as a priority, or a pension or profit-sharing plan debt.

Navigating Your Bankruptcy Case

Bankruptcy is essentially a qualification process. The laws provide instructions for completing a 50- to 60-page bankruptcy petition, and because the rules apply to every case, you can't skip a step. We want to help.

Below is the bankruptcy form for this topic and other resources we think you'll enjoy. For more easy-to-understand articles, go to TheBankruptcySite.

More Bankruptcy Information

Bankruptcy Forms and Document Checklist

Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims

Chapters 7 and 13 Bankruptcy Form List

Bankruptcy Document Checklist

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We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer.

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